Many of us may have added health-related goals to our new year’s resolutions, but it could actually be costing us instead of helping us, new data has shown.
Around 6.2 million Australians have a gym membership, but just 50 per cent of them (3.1 million) are actually attending more than once a week, Finder data has revealed.
That means around 3 million Aussies are wasting their memberships, with lost fees totalling a whopping $2.4 billion per year – or $780 per member per year.
To put that into perspective, each visit is costing them a huge $65.
Men are the biggest culprits, with 46 per cent of male gym members only using their membership once a month or less, compared to just 17 per cent of female members.
“We all start out with the best of intentions when signing up to the gym, but the research shows that some of us fall off the bandwagon,” personal finance specialist at Finder, Taylor Blackburn, said.
“If you’re not making good use of your membership, don’t let it sit idle and drain your bank account – chat to a gym representative about the cancellation process.”
Some gyms will likely charge an exit fee or make you pay out your remaining membership balance before terminating your contract, so you’ll need to work out whether it’s cheaper to cancel or continue, Blackburn said.
“When it comes to value, our research shows that gym memberships are only beneficial for one in two members.”
What are some low-cost alternatives to gym memberships?
There are plenty of ways you can workout for less.
“Rather than signing up to a contract, why not pay for a casual visit instead? This may cost more as a non-member, but it is cheaper than a monthly fee,” Blackburn said.
Finder also suggested doing bodyweight workouts in your backyard, or taking up running.
“You can also access hundreds of free online workouts that cover everything from high intensity cardio to yoga. No matter your fitness level, there is something for everyone,” Blackburn said.
What other subscriptions should I cancel?
The beginning of the year is a good time to take stock on all the subscriptions you’re signed up to, and cancel any you aren’t using, or think you could find cheaper elsewhere.
For example, are there any old magazine subscriptions you’re paying for but not using? Any ongoing app purchases you’ve made but have forgotten about?
What about any donations to charities that no longer align with your values?
Trawl through your bank statements for the last few months to see what’s being directly debited, and make a call on whether you think you can do without it.
It’s also a good idea to review any plans you’re on, and see whether you can get a better price on it. For example, is there a cheaper mobile plan out there offering the same benefits? Can you shop around for better car insurance?
ASIC’s MoneySmart website suggests you make a list of all the subscriptions you could cut, then ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this realistic?
- Do I need to cut back on all of these, or just some?
- What are the most obvious ones to start with?
“Even if you need to reduce your expenses a lot, try not to cut out everything in your ‘wants’ bucket,” ASIC states.
“By allowing yourself a treat now and then, you will find it much easier to stick to your budget.”